Mines professor counts on math to predict Superbowl - KOTA Territory News

Mines professor counts on math to predict Superbowl


By Dani Doran, SDSM&T

As football fanatics gear up for Sunday's big game, one question hangs in the air: Who will be the next Super Bowl champion? Some look to players' injuries, others, coaches' plays, while still more bet on the sheer will of diehard fans for a decisive victory. Roger Johnson, Ph.D., counts on math. His prediction: the Seattle Seahawks by a mere .2-point edge.

His models have a history of success. "This year my scheme correctly predicted game outcomes 63 percent during the regular season and 80 percent correct during the playoffs," explains Johnson, a professor in the Department of Mathematics & Computer Science at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.

During the NFL season, Johnson produces weekly "point-spread" ratings. Essentially, each team has a rating, and when two teams play each other, the predicted score difference is the difference in the ratings. The only deviation: a 3-point correction for home-field advantage.

"To get a feel for the method, if two games have been played in a season – say Minnesota beats Green Bay by 10 points and Green Bay beats Chicago by five points – then the method predicts Minnesota would beat Chicago by 15 points."

But it's not all cool statistical analysis; his heart's in the game, too. Johnson began his forecasts in 1998, the year his beloved Vikings lost the championship game, missing their chance at Superbowl stardom. Even then, his predictions foresaw the Bronco's rise to the top.

This Sunday, he'll face Denver again and wait to see if the Seahawks keep their .2-point edge, leading its team – and Johnson – to victory.

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